What is an outbound call center?
Get to know what an outbound call center means, the various functions it handles, and the quickest way to set up an outbound call center.
Even in this social media age, if you want to sell something to a prospect, the best way is to talk to them. When meeting in person is not feasible, as often it is, a telephonic conversation can help seal the deal. That is where an outbound call center comes into play.
An outbound call center is a type of call center that handles outgoing calls for various purposes. It has the right IT infrastructure to make calls, manage agents, and also track the metrics from time to time.
What is an outbound call center? What does it do?
Outbound calls are calls placed by a person to another individual or another. Eg: Jane calling her bank. In business parlance, outbound calling refers to the process of calling customers or other businesses for pitching a sale, taking a survey, verifying information, etc.
A call center that is set up for the exclusive purpose of making outgoing calls is referred to as an outbound call center. The calls could be made for a variety of reasons, some of which are as below:
All the leads that your business gets must be turned into deals. That conversion process mandates a telephonic conversation with the prospect. It is an outbound sales call center that makes it possible to call prospects who have shown interest in the business. Alternatively, it could also be used for cold calling or telemarketing — where unsolicited calls are made to users who fit the buyer persona with the aim to sell goods or services.
Customer feedback sheds light on what customers truly feel about a business and its offerings. Listening to their opinions helps a business steer their future plans in the right direction. An outbound call center helps facilitate such telephonic conversations with customers to collect their feedback, discover possibilities for improvement and also to rate the customer’s loyalty.
Banks, financial institutions and even employers have set up outbound call centers that call individuals to establish their identity. The outbound call could be made by a human who checks the user’s identity based on pre-recorded facts or by an automated system that checks whether the given contact number is valid or not.
Outbound call centers have been used for presidential campaigns. Today, they are used for all kinds of campaigns including marketing, fundraising, social events and so on.
How to set up an outbound call center
In the past, you needed a long list of cloud telephony hardware and also an army of technicians to set up an outbound call center and kick-start outbound calling.
But, today you need only three things to set up an outbound call center. They are:
- A cloud-based outbound call center software,
- A laptop or any device that can connect to the internet, and
- A decent internet connection.
With the help of a call center software, you can set up a call center that can make calls to any part of the world at low call costs.
The upside of a cloud-based outbound call center software is that there is no necessity to have a physical office space. You can work from your home, a cafe or any quiet as it suits you and makes outbound calls. Since these cloud-based call centers connect agents virtually, they are also referred to as virtual call centers and are considered to be the future of call centers.
Benefits of a cloud-hosted outbound call center software
Also, virtual call centers offer several benefits compared to traditional outbound call centers that required huge capital investment for telephony hardware. Some of the assured benefits of opting for virtual call center for outbound operations are:
As an outbound call center manager, you can be located in California and manage your call center located in Canada without having to be physically present in the office. All call center activities including creating or editing call flows, setting up custom welcome messages, managing workforce and much more can be done remotely.
You can begin your outbound call center operations with a single agent and ramp it by dozens of agents or as many as you wish instantly. Adding new agents, buying virtual phone numbers and setting up more call flows is an easy task with call center software. And it all happens instantly without any downtimes to current operations or waiting for the vendor to set it up.
When you opt for a call center software to set up your outbound call center, you are spared from incurring several capital expenditures. The software eliminates the capex required for buying PBX hardware, lots of phone cables, individual desk phones, and related telephony hardware. Also, since the calls are cloud-based they rely on VoIP for data transmission, which is again cost-effective in terms of call rates.
If you are planning to set up an outbound call center, here are some features you must check the boxes against before signing the dotted line.
8 telephony features that an ideal outbound call center must have
There are some critical features that an outbound call center software must invariably have. These features go beyond the obvious purpose of outbound calling and aid in making the call center more efficient in its function.
The facility to upload all your existing contacts database as a CSV or spreadsheet for quick dialing. Eliminates the need to copy-paste or hop from one screen to another to make calls.
Customer interaction history
Gives a quick view of all the previous conversations that other agents could have had with the customer. It also gives a view of special requests from customers.
Phone number masking
A.k.a call masking, phone number lets you make your outgoing call appear as if it is originating from another number. Highly beneficial if your call center is outsourced and is working remotely.
Call straight from the web browser or the phone interface with a single click. Eliminates the need to dial-in numbers manually, which actually leads to errors.
Getting successful connections with customers on the first call is difficult. In such instances, a voicemail drop feature would help leave a message.
A CRM Integration makes it easy to fetch customer phone numbers from within the CRM, obtain contextual information of previous conversations before placing the call and also manage tasks & appointments from a single interface.
Record all conversations between the caller and customer to identify areas of improvement, call script adherence, call quality, etc.
When input from another team member is required for the call, call conferencing to let them join the call and take the conversation forward.
Call center reporting that gives a bird’s eye view as well as a ground-level view of outbound call center performance metrics.
Best practices to follow in an outbound call center
Best practices help us make the most out of…anything! Here are some best practices that will help reap maximum benefits out of an outbound call center.
Keep an eye on outbound call center performance metrics
As a call center manager, there are several call center metrics and KPIs that you have to monitor from time to time. These metrics help measure how effective your call center is.
There are specific metrics that apply to an outbound call center, like:
- Number of call attempts or hit rate
- Calls per agent
- Abandoned call ratio
- Conversion rate
- List closure rate
- Revenue per successful call
Depending on the volume of calls, you can monitor these metrics on a daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis. You can even customize a call center dashboard that displays a chosen set of metrics you want to monitor on a timely basis.
Have a handy call center script for agents
Be it in an inbound call center or an outbound call center, your agents must have clarity on how to what to talk to prospects/customers. The conversations must take place without the agent not missing out on key pieces of the conversation.
Furthermore, there is also the need to ensure consistency in call quality and tone. A call center script can help with all these requirements until the agents have become adept at handling the calls on their own.
Train agents for productivity
Selling over the phone is hard. Agents need to be proficient at achieving the purpose without extending the conversation. That calls for training and practice. Proper call center training can enable agents to handle conversations that are quick as well as efficient in resolving issues.
As part of the training, agents can be made to take mock calls of hypothetical situations. This form of exposure will attune them to having the right kind of conversations that will delight prospects.
Schedule zone-based calling hours
Your customers could be living in any part of the world. The time zone in which your outbound call center functions and their time zone could be different. Your day time hours could be midnight for them. That makes it necessary to plan for calling customers at the appropriate time. An outbound call center manager must take ownership of creating a call schedule that has numbers segmented based on customers’ time zones.
Outbound call center; explained in a nutshell
An outbound call center enables a business to handle outbound calls for various purposes. In addition to the fundamental task of placing phone calls, it also enables call center supervisors and admins to have total control over the telephony operations. Agents working in an outbound call center can make use of features like contact import, CRM integration, phone number masking, click to call, voicemail drop, etc. to augment their productivity. When it comes to choosing between an on-premise and cloud-based call center software, the latter is recommended owing to its cost-effectiveness, feature-richness, and quick scalability.
Have any questions about outbound calling or setting up an outbound call center? Drop them in the comments and we would respond to them ASAP.
Illustrations by Nikhil Kanda.
Freshcaller is a modern-day call center software that helps businesses set up outbound call centers on the cloud. Users can purchase local and international toll-free numbers for outbound calling, import contacts from CRM, set up voicemail drops, record outbound calls, and have a bird’s eye view of outbound call center operations from the well-decked admin dashboard.
If you want to find out more about what we do, check out www.freshcaller.com.
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